Friday the 13th, one of the most beloved and recognizable horror franchises in history, may finally be back on track for more installments as an upcoming court case could sort out the complicated rights issues that have plagued the series for years. We haven't seen Jason Voorhees on screen since 2009 and there is plenty of reason to think a new movie featuring the machete-wielding slasher could do quite well in the modern landscape. But before that can happen, this legal battle needs to end.
The legal battle over the Friday the 13th rights exists between original Friday the 13th writer Victor Miller and original director Sean S. Cunningham/Horror Inc. At this point, it's a matter of sorting out who owns which elements of the franchise, but both sides want to control it all, if possible. According to attorney Larry Zerner, who starred as Shelly Finkelstein in Friday the 13th Part 3 and has since become an entertainment lawyer, both sides will be back in court on February 13. Here's what Zerner had to say about it on Twitter.
"Mark Your Calendar! The 2nd Circuit has scheduled oral arguments in Horror Inc. v. Miller (the Friday the 13th case) for February 13 at 10:00 AM. Each side will have 12 minutes to argue. I will provide analysis as soon as the Court posts the recording of the hearing"
This legal mess all started back in 2016. Victor Miller filed a termination of copyright over the original Friday the 13th script he wrote for the first movie, which would allow him monetary compensation for future Friday the 13th projects. A court ruled in favor of Miller already, but an appeal was filed by Horror Inc/Sean S. Cunningham. On Cunningham's side, he claims he hired Miller to pen the script, so the rights should still belong to him. Even if the appeal doesn't work out in favor of Cunningham, things could still get quite messy.
The issue is that the original Friday the 13th features Jason's mom as the killer, and Jason only appears briefly at the end, and not at all in the way that fans are accustomed to seeing him. Jason Voorhees didn't become the killer until Part 2 and didn't get his signature mask until Part 3. So, even if Victor Miller wins the rights to his original script, he may not retain the rights to Jason Voorhees as we know him. That could leave us in a place where the rights are split up.
If that does happen, Victor Miller could cut deals with studios to make Friday the 13th movies, but ones that may not be able to include Jason as we know him. On the opposite side, Sean S. Cunningham could release movies with Jason Voorhees, but without any of the lore contained in the original script, and without the Friday the 13th title. With that in mind, it would likely be better for fans if one side gets full control. Either that or Miller and Cunningham cut a deal if the rights get split up. Be sure to check out the post from Larry Zerner's Twitter and we'll be sure to keep you posted as the situation develops.